The Minneapolis Police Department recently placed two cops on leave for their apparent involvement with hanging controversial ornaments on a Christmas tree.
A photo of the holiday tree inside the city’s Fourth Precinct police station circulated on social media after decorations such as bags of junk food like Funyons, as well as Newport cigarettes, police crime tape, a can of malt liquor, a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen cup, and other items meant as racially symbolic were depicted hanging on it. The city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, called the “racist display” absolutely “despicable” ABC News reported.
“This behavior is racist, despicable, and is well beneath the standards of any person who serves the city of Minneapolis,” Frey stated on Friday, Nov. 30. “Shifting the culture of the police department requires swift and decisive action. Termination is necessary — both to discipline the officer and to send a clear message: Chief (Medaria) Arradondo and I will not tolerate conduct that departs from our values.”
Frey called for the officer responsible for the controversial ornaments to be fired after an investigation is completed.
Chief Arradondo said he was “ashamed and appalled” by the behavior of those who were responsible for the “racially insensitive” display. He said the actions of the culprits go against the department’s “values of trust, accountability and professional service.”
The Christmas tree items have since been removed.
A community activist told WTSP, “This is nothing new, it’s just getting exposed.”
One resident told the news station, “I believe these decorations were an attack on the Black community.”
Fourth Precinct Inspector Aaron Biard told Fourth Ward City Councilman Phillipe Cunningham that another officer placed some inappropriate ornaments on the tree as a prank. The cop was reportedly reprimanded with cultural sensitivity training.
The two officers who were allegedly involved with the Christmas tree incident were pulled off duty, but are still being paid while an investigation continues.
Civil rights advocate Ron Edwards told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the incident was “a modern day version of a dog whistle, tainted with racism, specifically against the African-American community.”